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Brazil’s President Demands Apology Before Considering Multimillion Amazon Aid Package

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (Photo: Isac Nóbrega/PR)

French President Emmanuel Macron and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are engaged in an ongoing public spat that has now put an Amazon aid package in limbo.

A financial aid package of $22 million pledged to Brazil to help fight fires in the Amazon by members of the recent G-7 summit was reportedly declined Tuesday by Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro.

The BBC reported that Bolsonaro dismissed the possibility that his country would accept the offer, unless his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, apologized for insulting him and describing him as a liar.

“First of all, Macron has to take back his insults of me. He called me a liar. Once he does that, then we can talk,” Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia. “To talk or to accept anything from France, whether it be with the best possible intentions, he [Mr Macron] will have to withdraw those words and then we can talk.”

Last week, Macron accused the Brazilian president of having lied to him by failing to follow through on previous comments he made where he committed to fighting climate change.

The French president further said that his country would not sign a large trade agreement with Southern American countries unless Brazil did more to fights fires in the Amazon area.

Germany and Norway have both also recently suspended donations allocated to the Brazilian government’s Amazon Fund over complaints that Bolsonaro’s administration has ramped up deforestation in the rainforest. Norway suspended $33.27 million to the fund while Germany suspended another $39 million.

Things Get Personal Between Macron and Bolsonaro

The feud between Bolsonaro and Macron over funds for the Amazon stems, in part, from a personal spat between the two played out in social media.

Bolsonaro commented on a Facebook post by a Brazilian man which was about Macron’s wife being 25 years older than Macron.

Bolsonaro wrote: “Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha.”

In response, Macron described the Brazilian president’s comment as “extraordinarily sad” and “rude.”

Fueling the feud is Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, who mocked France and the fire that burned down the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris last April.

“Macron cannot even avoid a predictable fire in a church that is part of the world’s heritage and he wants to give us lessons for our country?” Lorenzoni remarked.

Bolsonaro also accused Macron and the G-7 nations of having a colonialist mindset for discussing the Amazon rainforest fires without the presence of any country in the Amazon basin.

In the past, Bolsonaro has accused European nations of wanting to get their hands on Brazil’s resources and the Amazon so they could develop the region for themselves.

“Brazil is like a virgin that every pervert from the outside lusts for,” Bolsonaro said during a July 6 press briefing in response to a question about environmental preservation of the Amazon.

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Rami Almeghari

Rami Almeghari is a freelance independent writer, journalist and lecturer, based in the Gaza Strip. Rami has contributed in English to several media outlets worldwide, including print, radio and TV. He can be reached on facebook as Rami Munir Almeghari and on email as [email protected]

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